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Out of step with modern thinking: ‘Death sentences sink to historic lows’ in 2011

The Death Penalty Information Center's logoThis morning the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) release its latest report, “The Death Penalty in 2011: Year End Report,” on statistics and trends in capital punishment in the past year. From the accompanying press release:

The report noted that new death sentences dropped to 78 in 2011, marking the first time since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 that the country has produced less than 100 death sentences in a year.  It represents a 75% decline since 1996, when there were 315 new death sentences. California, which has the country’s largest death row, saw its death sentences drop by more than half this year – 10 compared with 29 in 2010. Only 13 states carried out executions in 2011, 74% of which were in the South.  Only 8 states carried out more than one execution. Texas led the country with 13 executions, but that number represents a 46% decrease from 2009, when there were 24 executions. “This year, the use of the death penalty continued to decline by almost every measure,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and the report’s author. “Executions, death sentences, public support, the number of states with the death penalty all dropped from previous years.  Whether it’s concerns about unfairness, executing the innocent, the high costs of the death penalty, or the general feeling that the government just can’t get it right, Americans moved further away from capital punishment in 2011.”

As for our state, Kentucky was singled out on page 4 of the report:

Other states, like Kentucky, Nebraska, Arkansas and North Carolina, have not fully resolved controversies surrounding the need to provide careful execution protocols that avoid severe pain.

Kentucky’s death penalty is too broken to fix. It needs to be abolished.

Photo: Courtesy Death Penalty Information Center

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